Fox Byte 5775 #53: Ha’azinu (Give Ear)

הַאְַזִינוּ

In this scene from Empire of the Sun, Jim (Christian Bale) sings the Welsh lullaby Suo Gân in tribute to Japanese kamikaze pilots. The song of hope and of peace carries him through the tribulation of war. (Video via YouTube)

In this scene from Empire of the Sun, Jim (Christian Bale) sings the Welsh lullaby Suo Gân in tribute to Japanese kamikaze pilots. The song of hope and of peace carries him through the tribulation of war. (Video via YouTube)

The one element of Steven Spielberg’s movies which has remained just beneath my consciousness for nearly thirty years is not his stunning cinematography or compelling drama.  It is a song; a simple Welsh melody which carries us through Empire of the Sun.  We first hear Suo Gân (Lullaby) as the movie opens.  British choir boys sing it in church in the compound reserved for foreigners living in Shanghai.  The soloist is Jamie (Christian Bale), a boy of about 10.  He is British by birth, but he has never set foot on his parents’ homeland.  Jamie’s family live as privileged foreigners have lived ever since China capitulated in the First Opium War a century before.  They take no notice of the Chinese except where their own wants and needs are concerned.  Jamie, a son of privilege, knows no other way than to lord it over the natives beneath his station.

Change comes quickly when the Japanese attack.  China and Japan have been at war for years, but Shanghai is undisturbed until December 8, 1941.  As America’s Pacific Fleet burns in Pearl Harbor, Japan’s legions occupy Shanghai.  Jamie’s family flees, but in the confusion he is separated from his parents and left to fend for himself, eventually landing in an internment camp adjacent to a Japanese airfield.

By 1945 he is no longer Jamie, but Jim, a rough lad learning to survive among the mixed multitude in captivity.  Jim can hold his own, having grown accustomed to lying, stealing, cheating, and other mischief.  His innocence dies bit by bit, not only through the tribulations of war, but through betrayal by men he trusts.  Yet Suo Gân remains with him.  One morning he awakens to see Japanese aviators participating in the ceremony of the kamikaze.  Jim comes to attention, salutes, and sings the lullaby in tribute to these men who will soon die in the service of their Emperor.  Their deaths come more quickly than expected.  At that instant, American P-51 Mustangs, the “Cadillac of the sky”, attack, rapidly transforming the airfield into a smoking ruin.  In their wake Jim pauses to consider the dreadful price he has paid to survive.  With despair he confesses, “I can’t remember what my parents look like.”

At war’s end Jim finds himself in an orphanage among children awaiting reunion with their parents.  Tears of joy flow, but he stands in shocked silence.  His father passes by, not recognizing the hardened youth as the beloved, if rebellious, child he knew.  It is his mother who sees him, first as the Jamie she loved, then as the Jim she does not know how to love, and finally as a young man with gaping wounds in his soul who desperately needs the healing that only a parent’s love can bring.  He looks into her face and four years of pain and death wash away in peace beyond hope – the peace promised in the strains of Suo Gân.

BFB150926 Suo GanAll Jim can remember is the song, but it is enough to set him on the path of healing and reconciliation.  So it is with the exiled, destitute people of YHVH.  He also gave a song to them – a song that would carry them through time to peace beyond hope:

Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.  (Deuteronomy 31:21 NASB)

This is no simple lullaby; it is the Song of Moses, an epic of Hebrew poetry appearing in the Torah portion Ha’azinu (Give Ear, Deuteronomy 32:1-52).  The song Moses sings is not actually his, but YHVH’s.  The Lord speaks future history through Moses, telling the people of Israel something only the last generation will understand.

BFB150926 Psalm 19-1Moses begins the song invoking heaven and earth, the same two witnesses he has called upon earlier (Deuteronomy 4:26, 30:19-20, 31:28).  There are no better witnesses to give testimony throughout the ages, seeing as how they will remain until the Lord makes them anew at the end of all time.  With praise to YHVH Moses launches quickly into the purpose of the song, which is to tell the Lord’s people exactly who they are:

Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 

Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as the droplets on the fresh grass and as the showers on the herb. 

For I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!

The Rock!  His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.

They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation.

Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?  Is not He your Father who has bought you?  He has made you and established you.

Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations.  Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you.  (Deuteronomy 32:1-6 NASB)

This song uncovers patterns and rhythms which echo throughout Scripture, revealing the Bible as the story of a people, Israel, which YHVH has chosen as His vehicle for redemption of every people.  Let us consider some of those echoes, beginning with the invocation of heaven and earth as witnesses:

The Mighty One, God, the Lord, has spoken, and summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.  Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.  May our God come and not keep silence; fire devours before Him, and it is very tempestuous around Him.  He summons the heavens above, and the earth, to judge His people:  “Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”  (Psalm 50:1-5 NASB, emphasis added)

Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the Lord speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me.  An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”  (Isaiah 1:2-3 NASB, emphasis added)

Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’  And I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’  But they said, ‘We will not listen.’  Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them.  Hear, O earth:  behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their plans, because they have not listened to My words, and as for My law, they have rejected it also.  (Jeremiah 6:16-19 NASB, emphasis added)

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:17-19 NASB, emphasis added)

Notice the element of judgment in these passages.  That is why heaven and earth are witnesses.  Our ancestors of Israel entered a solemn Covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to abide by His ways, keep His commandments, and remain faithful to Him alone.  The Law of Holy God is the foundation of that Covenant; without Law there can be no legal agreement between contracting parties, and that is exactly what this Covenant is.  More precisely, it is a series of covenants YHVH established with humanity from the beginning.  Always the conditions are the same:

  • YHVH takes people as His own.
  • The people take YHVH as their exclusive God.
  • YHVH promises to look after His people and bless them in every imaginable way.
  • The people promise to do as YHVH says according to His commandments.
  • Breaking these terms brings retribution on the offending party.

The retribution may also be called curses, bad things that happen to those who break the Covenant.  The ultimate curse is death.  Why?  Because the Covenant is with God Most High, the Creator, the Source of all Life.  Divorcing oneself from that Source means cutting oneself off from the only means of continuing to live.  That much has not changed since the days of Adam and Eve.  The basic terms of this first Covenant with our original ancestors carried over into the covenants with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and the people of Israel, King David, and finally the New, or Renewed, Covenant which has now come into effect through the redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua (Genesis 2:15-17, 9:1-17, 12:1-3, 15:1-21, 17:1-27, 22:15-18, 26:1-5, 28:10-22, 35:9-12; Exodus 19:1-9, 24:3-8; II Samuel 7:8-17; I Chronicles 17:3-15; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-32; Luke 22:14-20; I Corinthians 11:23-26). 

Not one of those covenants relieves the people of God from responsibility to learn and obey His commandments.  The only thing that has changed is the way He has provided for humans to abide by the terms:  by giving us new hearts which the Holy Spirit uses as His parchment on which to write the words of YHVH’s Law as a testimony to all of creation.  That is what makes the New Covenant so much better – not that the conditions of keeping the Covenant with the Almighty have changed, but that He has made it possible for His people to do so (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-32).  The purpose of these covenants is so that God can have as His exclusive possession a people who love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Matthew 22:35-39; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-27).  That is why Yeshua says to us, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”, an exhortation echoed by the Apostle John (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 6).  But which commandments are Yeshua’s?  That should be easy to understand:  if it is true, as Yeshua said, that He and the Father are One, then His commandments and the Father’s commandments are the same.  In other words, the Torah given through Moses contains all commandments issued by the Father, executed by the Son, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Everything in Scripture after that is the practical application of those commandments – both negatively by fragile, fallible human beings; and positively by Messiah Yeshua, the Prophet to come after Moses, the Root of Jesse, the Branch, and the Anointed One (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Isaiah 11:1-5; Daniel 9:24-27; Zechariah 3:8-10).

This Messiah of Israel came to make a way for the people of Israel to do as God said all along.  This is a foundational concept; if we fail to understand it, we fail to understand the purpose of Messiah and the way YHVH has chosen to work with humanity.  All of mankind lives or dies by what happens to the nation of Israel.  There is salvation in no other nation for the simple fact that the Lord did not choose any other nation or people.  That is what we learn from the next lines of Moses’ song:

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.

For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil [apple] of His eye.  (Deuteronomy 32:8-10 NASB)

It is true that the Lord made every nation, but He did so from the stock of a single nation, intending that His nation would be the one to demonstrate the way of redemption to all the others.  The Apostle Paul makes that point in his sermon at Athens:

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’  (Acts 17:24-28 NASB)

If we think back to the time of Noah we can see the truth in Paul’s words.  After the Great Flood there were no nations.  There was only a single family seeking to repopulate the earth.  They did their job well, and in a few generations there was a nation at last.  Sadly, that nation chose to walk in a different way than the path Noah taught his descendants to walk.  His great-grandson Nimrod grasped power over all mankind, establishing a world empire with himself as its god-king (Genesis 10:6-12).  The disastrous result was Babylon, the attempt of man to build a tower to heaven as a unifying symbol of human power and a fist raised in defiance against Almighty God (Genesis 11:1-9).  YHVH had just dealt with that same problem on the other side of the Flood, when united humanity waxed worse and worse with their wickedness.  If He did not deal with Nimrod’s rebellion immediately, YHVH would have to do just as He did in the days of Noah:  destroy the population of the earth and start all over.  Such an outcome would endanger His covenant established after the Flood (Genesis 9:1-17), thus giving great occasion to God’s enemies to challenge His sovereignty.  Consequently, the Lord adopted an alternative by confusing the languages of the people and scattering them throughout the earth. 

That was the origin of the nations, as well as the origin of The Nation through which God would redeem mankind.  Nimrod, the man who built the Tower of Babel, was still ruling Babylon when the Lord called Abram to leave that empire and set out for the Promised Land.  Since that time the alternative before humanity is this:  align with Babylon and its daughter nations in continued rebellion against YHVH, or align with the Israel of God established through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  It has been possible for many ages to align with Israel while remaining among the nations, but now that is beginning to change – or at least it is promised to change when Messiah establishes His Kingdom from Zion.  Many believe that time is at hand, and perhaps it is so.  Our present reality, however, is that Israel remains largely scattered among the nations, and thus it is wise to understand how that happened.

Most of the rest of the Song of Moses tells us that story.  God blessed Israel with protection, provision, wealth, power, and every good thing.  Then Israel grew fat and arrogant and decided to follow what looked good in their eyes.  They neglected YHVH, choosing to worship false gods – both idols of wood and stone, and idols of their own minds that catered to their own fleshly lusts.  The result was predictable:

Then He said, “I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness.

They have made Me jealous with what is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols.  So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,

For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

I will heap misfortunes on them; I will use My arrows on them.

They will be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts I will send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust.

Outside the sword will bereave, and inside terror—both young man and virgin, the nursling with the man of gray hair.

I would have said, ‘I will cut them to pieces, I will remove the memory of them from men,’

Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy, that their adversaries would misjudge, that they would say, ‘Our hand is triumphant, and the Lord has not done all this.’”

For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them.  (Deuteronomy 32:20-28 NASB)

Tower of Babel Marten van Valckenborch

Tower of Babel
Marten van Valckenborch

Scripture and the record of history verify how all this occurred.  In essence, Israel did exactly as Nimrod had done.  After escaping destruction in Egypt and being planted securely in the Promised Land, our ancestors came to consider their pleasant situation as the result of their own goodness.  They rebelled, although they would not have considered it rebellion.  They still regarded YHVH as God, but they remade Him in their own image, or images.  Then YHVH did as He had done with Nimrod’s empire:  He divided and scattered Israel.  The ten tribes of the Ephraimite Northern Kingdom departed into Assyria, and the two tribes of Judah departed first into Babylon, and then into Rome.  Eventually all of them were dispersed into every nation in every corner of the earth.  The Ephraimite tribes lost their identity and even the memory of their connection to Israel.  Judah became the Jewish people, the prophesied remnant of Israel who would serve as testimony to the promise that YHVH would one day provide a way of redemption and restoration.  Through Judah came Messiah Yeshua, and through Him the means by which all Israel would be saved – and with it, all the nations.

This is the reason the Lord scattered His people into the world.  If the nations would not come to Him, He would go to the nations.  First He would break the power of sin and death, offering a way back into His good graces, and then He would break the power of the nations that held His people in exile.  After that, He would establish His Kingdom as chief among all the nations.  All who desire access to Him would have to come through Israel to do so.  There in Zion He would have His throne, and there He would receive the delegations of the nations at His appointed times.

Not all of this has happened yet, but enough has happened that we know the end is certain.  The outcome is clear enough from such prophecies as Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2), Ezekiel’s vision of the new Temple (Ezekiel 40-48), and Zechariah’s word regarding Messiah’s reign in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14).  John’s vision relates this as well, particularly that part about the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our God and of His Messiah (Revelation 11).  This is what Paul proclaimed throughout his ministry, telling all people, whether Israelite or not, that they are free by Messiah’s work to come into the nation of Israel and enjoy fellowship with their Creator (Ephesians 2:11-22).  And this is where we get to the good news at the end of the story, when Moses concludes his song:

Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.  (Deuteronomy 32:43 NASB)

There is hope indeed for Israel and for everyone who aligns themselves with Israel.  That is why Moses wrote his song.  Perhaps we would be wise in these latter days to learn this song of the ages.

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished.  And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.  And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!  Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?  For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”  (Revelation 15:1-4 NASB)


The Song of Moses

 Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 

Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as the droplets on the fresh grass and as the showers on the herb.

For I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!

The Rock!  His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.

They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation.

Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?  Is not He your Father who has bought you?  He has made you and established you.

Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations.  Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you.

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.

For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.

The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him.

He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field; and He made him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock,

Curds of cows, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs, and rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the finest of the wheat—and of the blood of grapes you drank wine.

But Jeshurun [Israel] grew fat and kicked—you are grown fat, thick, and sleek—then he forsook God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation.

They made Him jealous with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger.

They sacrificed to demons who were not God, to gods whom they have not known, new gods who came lately, whom your fathers did not dread.

You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth.

The Lord saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters.

Then He said, “I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness.

They have made Me jealous with what is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols.  So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,

For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

I will heap misfortunes on them; I will use My arrows on them.

They will be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts I will send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust.

Outside the sword will bereave, and inside terror—both young man and virgin, the nursling with the man of gray hair.

I would have said, ‘I will cut them to pieces, I will remove the memory of them from men,’

Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy, that their adversaries would misjudge, that they would say, ‘Our hand is triumphant, and the Lord has not done all this.’”

For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them.

Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future!

How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had given them up?

Indeed their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves judge this.

For their vine is from the vine of Sodom, and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison, their clusters, bitter.

Their wine is the venom of serpents, and the deadly poison of cobras.

“Is it not laid up in store with Me, sealed up in My treasuries?

Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.”

For the Lord will vindicate His people, and will have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their strength is gone, and there is none remaining, bond or free.

And He will say, “Where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge?

Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offering?  Let them rise up and help you, let them be your hiding place!

See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life.  I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.

Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, as I live forever,

If I sharpen My flashing sword, and My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, and I will repay those who hate Me.

I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword will devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired leaders of the enemy.”

Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.” 

(Deuteronomy 32:1-43 NASB)


Please click here to return to the beginning of this series.

Please click here to return to Fox Byte #52:  Vayelekh (And He Went).

Please click here to continue to Fox Byte 5775 #54: V’Zot Habrachah (This is the blessing).

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© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2015.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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About Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

4 responses to “Fox Byte 5775 #53: Ha’azinu (Give Ear)”

  1. kathy collier says :

    Al, Thank you for this teaching. I enjoy reading your Torah studies and how you apply it to life experiences in our history. Blessings to you and Char. Kathy

    Kathy Collier

    Creative Interiors LLC

    1106 Roseland Dr

    Columbia, TN 38401

    kcollierdesign@charter.net

    931.223.5648 O

    615.390.8786 C

    Like

  2. Lori Hembree says :

    You have such a gift for writing about His Truth!! I’ve also been blessed by listening to you and Daniel on Remnant Road. Thank you for providing the prayer guide through the 10 Days of Awe. It was wonderful being connected to you and your wife and others knowing we all had the same focus those days. Praying blessings for you and your wife during Sukkot. Lori

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  3. The Barking Fox says :

    Thanks Kathy and Lori for your encouragement. It’s a great blessing to be connected with both of you, and to be able to share these things. Blessings on your families as well during Sukkot. 😉

    Like

  4. Pete Rambo says :

    Interestingly, the Song of Moses begins ‘Give ear …’ or Ha’azinu.

    James Block does a beautiful rendition of Psalm 80 that begins with the same words, ‘Give ear…’

    The difference is that Moshe calls to the witnesses of heaven and earth for the judgment when Israel goes astray and in Psalm 80 we find Manashe and Ephraim calling out to the Great Shepherd for restoration.

    May He give ear and restore us again…

    Liked by 1 person

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